Aronoff Center for the Arts
Victoria Morgan, now in her 15th season as artistic director and fourth season as CEO of Cincinnati Ballet, first performed the The Nutcracker at age 8. Now she’s presenting the world premiere of her own version, The New Nutcracker, which will feature more than 100 young ballet students and gymnasts. Music will be performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Dec. 15-24. $55-$80. Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center for the Arts, Downtown, newnutcracker.org.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
Get the most holiday bang for your buck with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s annual extravaganza, Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some). Dec. 18, 19, 27 and 28 at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, 210 E. Eight St., Downtown; Dec. 22, 23 and 31 at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, cincyshakes.com.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the fifth-oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S., presents Handel’s “Messiah” featuring James Bagwell and the May Festival Chorus (Dec. 17-18 at Christ Church, 5165 Western Row Road, Mason; Dec. 18 at Music Hall) and “A Swingin’ New Year’s Eve Concert and Ball” Dec. 31 at Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3300.
Cincinnati Museum Center Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains
Duke Energy this year donated its beloved holiday trains exhibit to the Cincinnati Museum Center, where it will continue to be annually displayed in the grand rotunda throughout the holiday season.
The collection of model trains zipping around a winter wonderland display will become part of Museum Center’s Holiday Junction, which offers kids the opportunity to ride around in a special, kid-sized train and meet Santa and reindeer who visit from the North Pole, among many other attractions including a play area and gift shop. $6.50 child; $8.50 adult (free for Museum Center annual membership holders). Open through Jan. 1. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org.
Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights
The Cincinnati Zoo is the greenest Zoo in America, earning regular recognition for its energy-efficient ways. This year the zoo’s annual massive light show will include nearly 2 million LED lights, which will save the zoo up to 85 percent on its electric bill during the event. Celebrate the holidays by strolling through themed areas such as Fairyland, Candy Cane Forest and Twinkle Trail. There will reportedly be some rappin’ elves and other costumed characters. Open 5-9 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1. $10 child/senior; $14 adult. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Many locals can recall grade-school field trips to the Playhouse in the Park to see its annual production of A Christmas Carol. The tale of redemption and holiday spirit is one of the Tony Award-winning theater’s most popular productions. Bruce Cromer’s Ebenezer Scrooge is the classically known miser who realizes just in time that he can still change his ways. You might already know the story, but the Playhouse’s hundreds of costumes and thrilling special effects will make you appreciate the show — and the season — that much more. The Playhouse has created a separate website for the show, where you can meet the characters, play games and watch behind-the-scenes videos of the production (achristmascarol.cincyplay.com). Runs Through Dec. 30. $25-$66. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams. cincyplay.com.
Middletown Arts Center
The Middletown Arts Center will host its Tomorrow’s Artists Today Contest for artists age 13-18 with prizes up to $250. Each entry must be submitted the week of Jan. 23 and all work will be in display at the MAC during February and during a special exhibit opening. $3 per entry. Middletown Arts Center, 130 N. Verity Pkwy., 513-424-2417, middletownartscenter.com.